Guide to perfect iOS paywall: tools to design, test, and get inspired

Kate Zhabina avatar
Kate Zhabina

As anyone involved in building a subscription-based product will tell you — paywalls are an imperative part of increasing install-to-trial and trial-to-paying-subscriber conversions. Hence, a lot of thinking goes into creating the perfect paywall for each step of the customer journey.

According to research, 39% of users cancel a free trial in the first 24 hours. This isn’t an encouraging number. However, the good news is, by adding well-built paywalls into the mobile app onboarding process, you can significantly reduce that percentage. Also, a great paywall increases your chances of finally seeing your product on the App Store (paywall mistakes are among the most common reasons of rejection).

We have already covered what you should consider in the anatomy of your paywall. In this article, we will focus on how to create a perfect paywall that passes App Store review, which tools can help with this undertaking, and what you should test for your paywall right now. 

Paywall Must-Haves

If your mobile app supports subscriptions, there’s an entire section on Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines that outlines some of the paywall must-haves that the company encourages developers to implement. Below, we’ll take a look at the three main ones.

Highlight Subscription Value During Onboarding

First and foremost, during onboarding, you’ve got to highlight the benefits that your subscription offers. What will users gain by paying a fee to access some of your product’s features?

You’ve got to clearly illustrate the value of your subscription so that users are aware of how your application works and what actions are or content is restricted to paying subscribers. 

In terms of getting past the review process, make sure to include a strong call to action with a clear summary of subscription terms. Any confusion in this area will cause your app to be rejected.

As you can see from the above screenshot of Loona app, the paywall highlights subscription value at the very top, has a clear call to action, and a summary of when the user will have to pay. This can serve as a good example of a paywall that generates install-to-trial conversions.

Be Clear and Don’t Mislead Users

Apple is really against any misleading information that could be misinterpreted. So, whenever your paywall appears, it should have all of the different subscription options clearly visible, it should specify the trial duration, and it should mention the cancellation details. Otherwise, you may be rejected.

Moreover, the call to action button has to be close enough to all of the relevant information. Otherwise, users might get confused about what the button is actually referring to. For instance, take a look at an example below that garnered a lot of attention on Twitter.

In this case, Apple was concerned with the fact that upon clicking the “Start Free Trial” button, users will face an unexpected price tag, which makes the button misleading. Thus, the review team recommended placing the price directly on the button, so as to make it clear to the viewer from the start.

In the end, the paywall was approved once the developer changed the button text to “Try Free & Subscribe”. This makes it clear to the user that upon pressing the button, they will have to fill in their payment details and complete the subscription which won’t be billed for the first seven days.

As you can see, the above example isn’t very clear-cut. So, to avoid similar problems, ensure that your CTA button has the corresponding price directly on it or very close by. Or, that the text on the button doesn’t mislead users by making them think that they won’t have to provide payment details before starting the free trial.

Give Extra Information Upon Sign-Up

Another must-have to ensure that your app passes the App Store review process is by giving your users the opportunity to see more information on the sign-up screen. Specifically, you should include links to your Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Additionally, it’s a good idea for your paywall to showcase:

  • Name and duration of the subscription
  • Content and services provided within the subscription period
  • The billing amount
  • The method to restore purchases or log in

For instance, as you can see from Headspace’s paywall, there’s a clear indication of the subscription name, available durations, what the user will gain, the option to restore a past purchase, and The Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Tools For Paywalls Design and Inspiration

Now that you know some iOS paywall design must-haves, you might be wondering if there are resources that can help you with building a good paywall. Well, we are glad you asked. There are actually a couple of tools that we think you might find useful.

App Fuel

App Fuel is a great place to look for inspiration on user flows and app screens so that you don’t have to wrack your brain trying to come up with something that works. Instead, you can look over concrete examples of applications that have successfully made it onto the App Store and what their UX looks like.

Paywall Screens

Paywall Screens, on the other hand, does a bit more than provide inspiration. Along with viewing examples of paywalls, you can actually get Figma templates to design your own screens, and it’s completely free.

Dribbble 

Dribbble is a great source of inspiration. By #paywall tag you can find a lot of great designs from creators across the world. Please note that some of these designs are just concepts that have never been launched, so double-check the structure of paywall before implementing the idea into your app. 

All of the above-mentioned resources can really save developers valuable time and money, and allow them to focus on building a truly unique mobile app.

Paywall Strategies That You Should Test

Finally, you are armed with paywall must-haves and have a couple of tools you can turn to when designing your sign-up screens. Now, it’s time to talk about conversions.

When you first got started with building a subscription-based app, we bet that you thought a lot about how to convert your downloads into subscriptions. As you can imagine, paywalls play a major role in facilitating that transition.

So, let’s take a deeper look at paywall strategies that can help drive conversions and propel your subscription app going forward.

Offer a Range of Choices

By offering a variety of choices to users, you put the power into their hands and let them decide which subscription option is best for them. In turn, they appreciate the flexibility and are more likely to complete a purchase.

Typically, as you can see from the below example, you can split your offers based on price and subscription duration. Or, you can base it on the different products and services within the offer.

Most subscription apps offer two or three choices, depending on the category of their application and what the users might be interested in.

Provide a Free Trial Option

According to research, subscriptions that offer a free trial drive 70% of the total revenue. That’s quite an impressive number. So, make sure to consider offering limited free access to users so that they can get a taste of your content and are encouraged to subscribe.

Also, don’t forget to prompt users to subscribe at relevant times. For instance, whenever their free trial is about to expire, or you see that they’ve been using your app frequently and might be interested in getting the full experience.

Add a Timer to Your Subscription Offer

Adding a sense of urgency to your subscription offer is also an excellent conversion driving practice. Whenever a user sees that a discount is for a limited time, they are afraid of missing out on the opportunity, and tend to complete their purchase faster.

Fitia, an intelligent nutrition app developer, used this tactic and observed excellent results. The developers added a countdown timer into one of their paywalls and ended up receiving up to 90% of purchases from it during the first 3 hours.

Test Different Design Elements

We understand that you might be keen to design your paywall, launch it, and eagerly monitor the conversions it generates. Unfortunately, things aren’t always so simple.

Chances are, you’re going to have to A/B test various design elements before finding the one that yields the best results. Specifically, it’s a good idea to test the following:

  • CTA button forms, sizes, and colors
  • Subscriber reviews as social proof
  • Different wording and phrasing
  • Photos, backgrounds, colors, visuals
  • Text fonts

If you need help with carrying out your experiments, Qonversion has an A/B testing tool that can let you try out paywall variations and prove or dispel your hypotheses prior to app releases. 

A/B Test Your Pricing

Finally, we’ve already mentioned A/B testing in the context of design elements. However, another important aspect that can lead to higher conversions is your pricing. Do A/B testing, compare prices, test different trial periods and promo offers, and see how it affects your revenue.

The truth is even minor fee variations can have an enormous impact on your revenue. So, subscription price A/B testing is imperative for mobile app marketers and developers who want to optimize their paywalls for the best results.

At Qonversion, we understand how challenging the mobile app development process can be and we aim to ease your already heavy workload. Hence, whether it’s a cross-platform infrastructure that you need, automation, or subscription analytics — we are happy to help!